Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Something Is Enveloping The West Coast

... and it could be a giant blob of protoplasm or a fog that causes rage and violence or maybe just a really bad idea.

The last one is correct as this is about #calexit and the Seattle Times take on it, entitled, oddly enough, "Should California, Oregon and Washington join Canada? #Calexit talk envelops West Coast."

You need read no further than the second paragraph which tells you all you need to know.
(R)esidents of the Best Coast have a lot in common with our northern neighbors. The three states have long been working with British Columbia to combat climate change. All three new potential provinces have legalized cannabis, which Canada is moving toward. Don’t forget Canada’s universal health care. We love health care for all here on the coast.
To summarize, here are the key features that the Pacific states have in common with Canada.
  1. High levels of consciousness about the latest environmental fad,
  2. Legal weed and
  3. Free stuff.
Awesome. If that doesn't spell out hard-working, productive people, then it doesn't. If they manage to pull it off and Washington, Oregon and California join Canada, then I have the perfect parting gift for them.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Originalist = Democracy

Trump is scheduled to reveal his Supreme Court pick tomorrow. I'm with Dennis Prager on this one.
Contrary to popular belief, the fight over the Supreme Court isn't about women's issues or gays or the like, it's about democracy. Even if we had 9 originalists on the court, you'd still be able to get abortion and gay marriage to be a part of the Constitution by amending it.

The Constitution was designed as a "living" document, but not in the modern way. It was made so the public could change it through voting. When you discover rights never mentioned in the thing, all you're doing is disenfranchising the voters.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mystery Breakers

My wife and I went through our breaker box today, identifying what each one did. We've never done it in the 7+ years we've owned the place.

Two of the breakers, a 20A 110 and a 20A 220, don't seem to have any purpose at all. Weird. Clearly, the wires go somewhere, but where? The only thing we can think to do, short of getting a specialty tool to trace the wires, is to leave them turned off and wait to discover just what doesn't work any more.

Also, I still haven't found why the outlet I blew with the deep fryer still doesn't work. Curiouser and curiouser.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Stand Up If You Like To Work On Cars

After reading this piece by a Princeton freshman detailing the racialist indoctrination there, something hit me like a ton of social justice warriors. First, an illustrative tidbit from the article.
“Stand up if you identify as Caucasian.”

The minister’s voice was solemn. I paused so that I wouldn’t be the first one standing, and then slowly rose to my feet. “Look at your community,” he said. I glanced around the auditorium obediently. The other students looked as uncomfortable as I felt, and as white. ¨Thank you,” the minister said finally. After we sat down, he went on to repeat the exercise for over an hour with different adjectives in place of “Caucasian”: black, wealthy, first-generation, socially conservative. Each time he introduced a new label, he paused so that a new group of students could stand and take note of one another. By the time he was finished, every member of Princeton University’s freshman class had been branded with a demographic.
What if the questions had been about interests, hobbies and clubs? For example, what if they had said, "Stand up if you like to work on old cars." Instead of being segregated into groups suspicious of each other, they would have been collected into circles of friendship. Think about it.

What happens when people who like to work on old cars get together? They discuss project cars, dream cars, engines, sources of parts, exotics and the like. They never discuss people who don't work on cars. It's a bond of camaraderie, not an us-versus-them thing.

As a concrete example, if Tim and I ever met, we'd discuss insects, photography, blogging and the like. I doubt we'd spend any time at all talking about people who weren't like us. Interests and hobbies are positive things. Race and sexual orientation are potentially very negative things as it's so easy to start talking about them, the ones who don't look like you or don't have the same sexuality.

Finally, the request, “Stand up if you identify as Caucasian” is one made by imbeciles and losers. If you're the kind of person with lots of interesting passions, the last thing you want to talk about is the color of your skin.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

... is my advice for watching the Trump Administration unfold. Peggy Noonan does a much better job describing what's going on that I do.
What happened from day one was a dramatic, almost daily barrage of executive orders. Among them: reinstating the 1984 ban on U.S. taxpayer funding of groups that provide abortions overseas; declaring the intention to create a physical barrier to secure the border with Mexico; moving forward on construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines; relieving the burdens of ObamaCare; and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership...

It’s a mistake for observers in Washington and New York to fixate on Mr. Trump’s daily faux pas at the expense of the political meaning of what he’s doing. He’s changing the face of the GOP. It is a mistake, too, to see Mr. Trump’s tweet on how Chicago had better solve its problem with violent crime or he’ll “send in the Feds,” as merely stupid—just a tweet that raises the question “What does ‘send in the Feds’ mean?” If you’re a parent in a tough Chicago neighborhood, you’d be heartened to think the feds might help. You’d be happy the president noticed. You’d say, “Go, Trump!”
Watching TV news, an excellent gauge of what the Democratic Party is thinking, you can see they are way behind the power curve on Trump. It's all outrages all the time. The only problem is that most of us don't really care if he's a sexist or not.

As Andrew Klavan pointed out on one of his recent podcasts, Trump isn't even in the same league as Beyonce when it comes to guttersnipe talk. Her lyrics are filled with raunch unthinkable just a few decades ago and she's nowhere near the worst of the popular music scene. So Trump talked about grabbing women? Big deal. Wade through the trash in the top 10 and you'll find all manner of depravity. You want me to get all bent out of shape about his latest indiscretion? Please. The filth parading about in the recent "Women's" marches made Trump look positively refined.

I thought the Chicago violence tweet was great. The media wants to talk race all the time with predictable victims and villains. Meanwhile, Trump is telling the innocents trapped in our urban war zones that he not only cares, he's willing to take the do-nothing politicians and race leaders by the scruff of the neck and shake them until something gets done. I'm betting, like Peggy says, that's a winner for most of the people in Chicago, no matter what the news media says.

Meanwhile, as the media and other Democrats wail about racismsexismhomophobiaislamophobiaglobalwarmingclimatechangetransgenderedrights, Trump is taking concrete actions which will result in jobs and wealth. While the standard liturgy of social justice accusations will continue to play well in the newsrooms and faculty lounges, it's going to become less and less relevant to the rest of us.

If they don't catch on soon, the lefty media is going to look like a bunch of squawking toddlers.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cursillo And Small Town Louisiana

I'm about midway through Rod Dreher's excellent family-ography, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life. I highly recommend it.

Not having much time today, I'll just note one thing. Those of us who live in big cities and their suburbs really miss out on the closeness that can come from a small town. The love and support that Rod describes in his native Western Louisiana isn't found in San Diego, Los Angeles or any of the places I've lived. It is, however, found in my Cursillo community here in San Diego.

Note: Cursillo is a movement within the Catholic church which involves wild parties, good food and craft beer. Actually, it also involves retreats, learning, prayer, sacrifice, service and stuff like that, but really, it's all about the parties at our place. My wife would disagree, but this is my blog and that's the way I see it. ;-)

In all seriousness, our Cursillo community provides the love and support that Rod chronicles. We're there for each other when we're sick or in trouble. We celebrate each others' triumphs and work together in prison ministries, support for the homeless, visits to those in hospice and more. It's a huge, loose, extended family, just like the folks in St. Francisville, Louisiana.

We're kind of a small town scattered across a big city.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

It's Time To Learn About Printed Circuit Boards

Last week, I finished the wiring of my MGB's cockpit. I'm now left with the engine compartment and connecting all of the trunk lines. This isn't going to be difficult, save for one thing. I'm adding relays to the headlights and want to include test points to make diagnosing electrical problems easy. To do this, I'm going to build an electrical box for the engine which will house all of these things. Having learned to hate tangled wires and connectors and dreading the rats' nest that could arise, I'm thinking of designing a printed circuit board (PCB) to make the connections and house the fuses and relays.

There's only one problem. I've never worked with PCBs before, except to repair them when components like integrated circuits go bad. Time to learn something new.


Monday, January 23, 2017

They Are Coming For Us!

And we're not even sure who "they" are. I'm not too certain of the "us," either.

This bit from the WSJ from the inscrutable Women's Marches this weekend struck me as symptomatic of our times. The author asks one of the leaders what it was all about. Here's the answer which borders on madness.
I put that question to Breanne Butler, the march’s global coordinator, who insisted the answer was no: “This isn’t a march on Trump,” she said. “It’s a march on Washington,” including Congress, the Supreme Court and “any other representatives.” The message, according to Ms. Butler: “Hear our voices, we’ve been silenced. You need to take us into consideration. . . . We are America.”
We've been silenced? By who? When? Who's "we?" It made me instantly think of this lovely nugget from the Pinky and the Brain episode, Welcome to the Jungle, where Snowball has completely lost his marbles and his convinced they are out to get him. With a little rework, the interview above goes like this.
Breanne Butler: They are silencing us!

WSJ: Who's 'they?'

Breanne: Them! The they are them! They're they! They're there! Them!

The whole march and the wave of protests was utterly incoherent to me. Just what waving giant sex organs on sticks was supposed to accomplish, I'm sure I don't know. In fact, I'm sure I don't want to know.

It's symptomatic, to return to the earlier thought, of the loss of responsibility for our own lives. I think Obama was a ghastly president and he did a great deal of harm to the country, but save for my insurance premiums going way up, my life over the last 8 years has been governed almost entirely by my own actions and decisions.

Here we have an honest election which Trump won fair and square and you've got a ton of people in the streets with signs and chants. Why? Your team had the presidency for 8 straight years. You can't handle 4 for the other side now? And why is it such a big deal? Just what is he going to do to your life that you can't remedy with a little proactive planning and energy on your part?

Seeing marching women dressed up as giant genitalia, all I could think was, "What a bunch of pussies."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Those Who Despaired The Most Over The Trump Inaugural

... must have been the four lefties on the Supreme Court: Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor. They were this close to achieving a total dictatorship of the judicial branch where they could negate any law, any custom, any social norm simply by their whim.

Oh sure, there are the social justice warriors who are convinced they're going to be rounded up and put in prison and the Muslim crazies who are convinced they'll be forced to leave the country, but I can't imagine anyone, even Hillary herself, who had their ultimate wish right in their grasp only to have it snatched away.

Topic Shift

Sarah Hoyt, blogging over at Instapundit, penned this little bit of beautiousnesss.
I JUST WANT TO REASSURE ALL OUR FRIENDS ON THE LEFT: Trump is not going to put you all in camps and install a Nazi state. He can’t, because George W. Bush already put you all in camps and installed a Nazi state. Oh, wait, he never got to do it, because we were already all dead in the nuclear war our cowboy president, Ronald Reagan, started by talking tough to the Russians. And that is when I got to the States. I’m sure people who’ve been here longer can explain to you how other republican administrations already destroyed everything, ALL THE THINGS WITH ALL THE DRAMA, in the most terrible way. Sorry guys the song has gone thin and only children believe the lyrics anymore. And honestly? That’s only because they haven’t seen the drama you guys create long enough to know better.
Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Friday, January 20, 2017

What We Need Today

A photo of a happy, fat cat relaxing on a soft, pink blanket. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Global Warming Ended The California Drought

I figured someone had to say it.

I googled the title of this blog post and came up with essay after essay asserting that Global Warming Climate Change made the drought worse. I couldn't find anything saying it had ended the drought. If the thing is so powerful that it can cause rain to fall here and not there, parching a forest, then it must also be able to make rain fall there and not here, turning a desert into a fruitful pasture.

Or something like that.

Or maybe I've got it all wrong and Global Warming Climate Change is effectively Satan, only doing evil. I guess that would make scientists and government regulators into angels, fighting carbonic sin on behalf of all humanity.

Here, a deputy department head of the EPA slays a coal-fired power plant, preventing tropical storms in Thailand.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Three Things I'm Thinking About Trump

  1. I like his cabinet picks.
  2. I like that he tweaks the social justice / political correctness crowd.
  3. I still think he's a swine and wish Ted Cruz had won, but what are you going to do?
With that out of the way, let's talk about something really important - rewiring an MGB. I'm taking the week off and trying to knock this sucker our. To refresh, I've got a 1973 MGB that I've had for about 30 years. Its wiring harness rotted out and instead of buying a replacement, I'm running the wires myself, changing connector types, modernizing things and upgrading in general. It's been a beast of a job.

I've ripped out all of the wires in the cockpit again. This will be my third go around at the cockpit, but I'm really confident now. Instead of running a single trunk line, I'm running five, according to the connectors on the steering column and the instrument panel. They break down as follows.
  1. Headlights and running lights
  2. Turn signals
  3. Windshield wipers
  4. Ignition
  5. Assorted instruments, radio and power
The first four correspond to connectors coming off the steering column and switches. The last is a catch-all. I'm breaking them apart to minimize risks. If I monumentally screw up something, I've only wrecked a single trunk line and can replace it much more easily than if I ran everything together. I just finished the first and am enjoying a Stone Ruination double IPA to celebrate. As soon as I post this and deal with a few odds and ends in the house, I'll go back and try to knock out the ignition wiring.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's A Good Thing They Called A Truce. The Kitchen Was A Mess!

Apparently, Oprah's been at war with food. One can only imagine how all of that proceeded as night after night, she planned and executed one offensive after another. First, a lightning thrust into the melons then an encircling movement around some guacamole and squeezable condiments. A high-level bombing attack on the eggs followed by mechanized strike against the contents of the crisper drawer. The pantry, a regular fortress of food, was left to last. Softened up by a prolonged barrage, it underwent a massed infantry assault which devolved into hand-to-hand combat.

War is hell.
I imagine the peace will include a certain amount of mopping-up actions.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Over-Promising, Under-Delivering

... is a recipe for gaining lots of very angry customers.

If this article in the WSJ is anything to go by, the world's "elites" are nervously pondering personal bunkers to ride out the storm. Or maybe cash out and flee to a safe space.
This year is different. As the world’s financial, corporate and political elites gather this week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, the global economic order is teetering. The question is whether it can be rescued.

In 2016, history began another chapter. Donald Trump’s U.S. election victory and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union reversed a march toward ever-closer global economic integration under way since the end of World War II.

Across continental Europe, antiestablishment political movements have gained ground, fostered by an anemic recovery from the eurozone’s debt crisis that kept wages stagnant and unemployment high in many countries. Their influence could grow further with elections this year in France, Germany, the Netherlands and possibly Italy.
One of the advantages of espousing very limited government is that you don't make promises you can't keep. Well, a lot of them, anyway. When you take the socialist/fascist approach of the postmodern West and promise health care and jobs and good wages and multicultural comity and more, you set yourself up to under-deliver on a ton of promises, resulting in furious citizens.

There's a truly incendiary blog post hiding in here where I spew enraged vitriol and mockery at the "elites" who thought they were so smart that they could run our lives, run our countries, run the world better than the deplorable swine they have the misfortune to rule. Meh. I think I'll go out to the garage and work on my MGB wiring instead. In the meantime, here's a photo of an amphibious assult ship coming in to San Diego on a cloudy day. I rather like the monochromaticity. I left it large, so it might be worth a click.

Enjoy it with a smile and not so much anger.

Haze gray and underway.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Speaking On Behalf of the Nazis And The Klan

... I'd just like to say that Martin O'Malley is welcome at one of our rallies any time. Maybe if he took the time to get to know us, he would learn to see the threat posed by the Jews, Catholics and mongrel races.
Honestly, what is wrong with the progressives? It's like they've all completely lost their minds. This isn't some hysterical nut on the fringe, this is a mainstream, moderate Democrat who ran for president. I know that you need to feed your activists red meat from time to time, but this red meat is toxic to everyone but your crazed, bunker-dwelling, dead-end fanatics.

People want to complain about Donald Trump's idiotic tweets and that's completely commendable. But then there's this. Maybe it's not worse, but at the very least it's more of the same. It's like they deliberately want us to hate each other.

I guess you can't raise money with lukewarm prose, you have to go straight for the white-hot rage if you want to bring in the big bucks.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Finding An Appropriate Image Is Left As An Exercise For The Reader

I just finished watching some EPL games, making a proper British breakfast and cleaning up after a killer party last night, so my keyboard and screen time today is just about shot. After seeing some progressive Facebook friends openly weep about Donald Trump's election again*, I've come up with the caption below. It just needs an appropriate image. I'm thinking a scene of mopey social justice warriors, but I'm open to suggestions.
The feeling when you finally realize that those deplorable, racist, homophobic, typical white people clinging to their guns and bibles will never understand just how open-minded and compassionate you are.
* - And again and again and again and ... for the love of Pete, are you ever going to be able to get over this and live your life, or is this going to be 4-8 years of empty threats of emigration?

Update: OK, it took me an additional 3 minutes, but you guys are worth it. If you've got a better idea, I'm happy to see it. Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2017

On Deep Frying A Chicken

So last night, I used my new Masterbuilt Butterball Deep Fryer for the first time with oil. I had used it previously with water and made a delightful Low Country Boil with shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn and Old Bay seasoning. This time, I was cooking a 5# whole chicken.

I seasoned the chicken with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper the night before, but did so with some skepticism. I figured that once I dropped that bird into the oil, those seasonings would just boil away. I'm pretty sure that's what most of them did.

The manual warns you not to use an extension cord with the fryer, so I found a plug on the end of the peninsula in our kitchen and plugged the beast into that. I put 2 1/2 gallons of corn oil into it and started it up, preheating to 350.

A promising start!
About halfway through the heating process, a GFI somewhere along the line blew and the outlet went dead. A quick search didn't reveal the culprit, so I switched to a different outlet, but that required the use of an outdoor extension cord. That was a bad idea.

I looked up the specs this morning and this monster puts out 1,650 Watts of heat. That means it draws 15 Amps. That's a lot of electrons sprinting through the wires. When I unplugged the extension cord after cooking last night, it was hot to the touch, particularly at the connections, but also all along its length. We threw the cord away and won't be doing that again.

Back to the cooking. Once the oil hit 350, we dropped the bird into its bathwater using the handy basket that came with the cooker. As an aside, this is a really nice unit. All of the components are well-made and fit together perfectly.

A 5# chicken, fresh from the fridge, brings a lot of cold with it. I would bet that the oil dropped 50-75 degrees immediately. Throughout the 20-minute cooking process, the oil never returned to 350, as indicated by the heating light being lit the whole time. Fiddling with the thermostat and watching where the heating light went off, it looked like it got back to about 325.

3 1/2 minutes per pound of chicken was the consensus on the Internet, but I was suspicious of that when it was obvious the oil wasn't returning to 350. I gave it 4 minutes per pound before pulling it out. Again, the fryer is so well-designed that pulling the basket out is easy and safe. It has hooks on the side that latch onto the top rim of the frying pot, allowing you to drain your food right inside the unit. Wonderful!

That looks done, doesn't it?
My meat thermometer said the chicken was at 175 or so and I figured the oil had done its job. Wrong. When we cut into the meat, parts were done to perfection and parts will still bloody and red. We were able to get enough cooked meat off of it for 3 people, but it clearly needed more time in the oil.

Umm, no.
For all of that, the properly-cooked portions were fantastic. The skin was crispy and the flesh was so moist that it was practically dense with juices. I was too distracted by the undercooked parts to notice if any of the seasonings on the skin survived.

Lessons Learned

First, preheat the oil past your cooking temperature. After you drop your food into the oil, turn the thermostat down to what you really wanted. The food is going to cool the oil, possibly significantly if its got a lot of mass like a chicken or if its really cold like something frozen, so you might as well prepare for that. It's not like an extra 25 degrees at the start is going to burn anything.

Find a circuit rated for 20 Amps and turn off everything else attached to it. The fryer uses power like the Death Star preparing to blast Alderaan to rubble. The lights are going to dim and the GFIs are going to trip if you're not ready for it.

Don't use an extension cord! That was sucker was really hot to the touch by the end. Usually, the safety warnings on products can be ignored as they're written with naughty children in mind, but in this case they were right on the money.

Buy your oil in a 2 1/2 gallon container. You can reuse the oil with a little bit of filtering and you might as well prepare for that by getting a container that fits the whole batch. The fryer is equipped with a really handy drain plug which makes recycling the oil a breeze.

All in all, I'd definitely do it again. Cooking was easy and safe, even given my bungling with the power source. The results were excellent. With a second try, I think I'd be able to concentrate more on the taste of the food than on what I needed to improve.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rough Surf

Driving around this morning, I saw some storm surf off Sunset Cliffs. The video below captures the turmoil, but not the thunder and the ground shaking from the waves impacting on the cliffs. It was great.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It Looks Like The California Drought Is Over

I blame Global Warming Climate Change!

It's a wet winter here in California. The rainy regions in the north are at or near 200% normal rainfall. Our reservoirs are almost all at or above normal.

Click for a legible image.
That looks like good news to me!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How Much Do You Need To Be Led?

Perusing the headlines on Real Clear Politics the other day, I saw an article entitled, "Can The White Working Class Lead?" It seemed like such an odd question and certainly not one I cared to see answered. I really don't need a leader, not for 90% of my life. Sure, I need someone to set foreign policy and manage the government bureaucracy and whatnot, but in my daily life, I need a wide selection of British wiring and electrical connectors far more than a leader.

The question is a strange one for self-reliant Americans, but a very similar one to those asked over and over again in Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets. Crippled by 70 years of socialism, the poor devils interviewed for that book could only think in terms of having a leader (or the Party) to guide them through almost everything in their spiritually and physically impoverished lives. As I listen to the book in my car, I sometimes shout at the radio, "You don't need a leader! You need to get to Home Depot and get to work repairing the broken-down junk all around you!"

I'd argue that most people need to be left alone more than they need a leader, even the white working class kind.

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Ashanti And The Mexican-American War

The Ashanti were an African tribe that lived in what is now Ghana and were regional top dogs in the 1600-1800s. They conquered neighboring tribes, enslaved some of them, a portion of which were sold to white slavers.

While Americans imported slaves bought from the Ashanti, we did not harvest them in the same manner. Had we followed such practices, we would have brought back many thousands of Mexicans in chains in the early 1840s as a result of winning the Mexican-American War. Recall that slavery was still being practiced in the US at the time.

I've read many accusations that America was built on slavery, but it seems to me that the Ashanti Empire was a little more direct in that area. No doubt many more examples can be found.

See also: Aztecs.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Who Was The Audience?

By now, you've probably seen the story of the four blacks in Chicago who kidnapped and tortured a white, mentally disabled man, screaming racial epithets at him as they did so. The event was livestreamed to Facebook by one of the perpetrators. There have been plenty of stories and analysis of the event, but there's one question I haven't seen asked or answered.

Who was the intended audience of the video? You don't livestream a video like this to your Facebook peeps thinking they're going to hate it, you put things on Facebook expecting your friends will eat it up. From the story linked above comes this tidbit.
The suspects can be heard saying they want the video to go viral.
The four abusers look to me like the classic tip of the iceberg. Yes, you saw them and they've been arrested, but there was a large audience behind them you don't see. How did that audience give these four the sense that this was going to get rave reviews?

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Sartre And Augustine

I just finished Professor Peter Kreeft's A History of Moral Thought and then the chapter on Sartre in Paul Jonson's Intellectuals. Wow.

Sartre was a complete and utter swine. His life was an extension of his spoiled-brat childhood, filled with intoxicants, exploited women, self-aggrandizement and utter disregard for any notions of morality or self-sacrifice. For example, he spent his years in occupied France putting on plays approved by the Nazis while writing about what a great thing resistance was. Consistency wasn't a big thing for him.

His philosophy, Existentialism, such as it was,simply validated what he wanted to do already. Existentialism is defined as
a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.
Simple translation: I get to do whatever I want. Well that must have been a shock to anyone that knew him.

Compare this to St. Augustine's life and philosophy. Augie started out as a party boy and womanizer. In Confessions he admitted that he used to do evil things simply because they were evil and it was fun. As his philosophy grew and matured, it changed his life. He realized that exploiting others for his own personal pleasure was inherently wrong. St. Augustine took heroic steps to fight the desires that dogged him throughout his life.

Sartre came up with a philosophy that simply reinforced his behavior. St. Augustine came up with one that forced him into the hard work of self-denial. Just on the surface, it seems to me that St. Augustine's is more likely to have value. After all, if you claim to have a dramatic epiphany about life, shouldn't it actually, you know, change your life?

Here, St. Augustine successfully fights the urge to strangle the little rat who broke his favorite sculpture.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Sometimes You Can't Make The Sale

There's a great article on Afghanistan in the National Review today. Here's a snippet.
I suppose I have as much time on patrols as any American, and I loathed what I saw in Sangin, because what we gained could not be sustained. Our top generals were preaching a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy based on winning hearts and minds. “The conflict will be won,” General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander, wrote, “by persuading the population, not by destroying the enemy.” Yet by a two-to-one ratio, the Marines in the platoon rated the Taliban better fighters than the Afghan soldiers, and not one Marine believed the villagers supported the government.
Persuading is selling and selling is convincing your prospect that the value of what you offer is greater than the value of what he's giving up. On our side, we have peace, the rule of law and diffuse prosperity. On the other side we have Islam and its hatred of our culture, massive income from the drug trade, corruption galore and the very real threat of violent retribution by the Taliban for those who side with us.

That's a sale you're not going to make.

I would argue that it was a good effort and that we went in with naivete that we have since lost in hard lessons which cost blood and treasure. That the original mistake was innocent and based on a Fukuyama-esque End of History concept of the world doesn't make it worth continuing to pour money and lives into this thing.

If we're going to accomplish anything there, I'd much rather we simply go full Roman on the poppy fields and the drug trade without regard to hearts or minds, but I'm an irredeemable imperialist so take that suggestion with a grain of salt. In any case, when the sales territory is clearly barren, you don't pour in more advertising dollars and salesmen, you get out.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Eventually, Even Celebrities Will Learn

... and then what will we do? I don't know about you, but I just can't get enough of these.

Good God, it's like a narcotic. The repetition, the earnestness, the nauseating self-regard, it's a feast of humiliation. It's like watching all of the smug, beautiful people who you hated in high school unwittingly making asses of themselves in public over and over again.

I looked up one of the dear members of Congress they were talking at. Adrian Smith (R, Nebraska 3rd District) comes from a population that is 53% rural. That's a lot even for Nebraska. I can imagine him watching a pack of semi-literate Hollywood cretins lecture him slowly and loudly like this and shaking his head. Somehow, I doubt that when he visits the good folks at the True Value hardware store in Ravenna, NE, they're talking about Sally Fields.

Some sad day, probably in the not-too-distant future, these celluloid nincompoops will get it through the cotton batting that serves for their brains that these videos are cause for mockery. When that happens, they will stop being produced and we'll have to go somewhere else for our guilty pleasures.


Aside: What is that thing in the suit in the video? It's horrible. Is it human or some kind of alien?

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Feline Geometry

I love this shot. I have no idea why she liked laying here, but clearly, our Maximum Leader, Maddi, is intensely pleased with it. I left it fairly large, so it might be worth a click. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

You're Evil

It is your doom to be so.

Consider this. Had Robert Byrd died in the early 1960s, he would have been considered an evil man, an unrepentant Klansman.

Had Hillary passed away in 2000, she would have been a homophobe for opposing same-sex marriages.

Don't even get me started on Robert E. Lee. No matter what he did that was good and noble, he was definitely evil because he fought for the Confederacy. Had he lived another 150 years, he may well have been able to redeem himself like Robert Byrd, but he did not and now he's on the Wrong Side of History.

You will be, too. That's the beauty of modern ethics. What was innocent before is evil today. Since these ethics are continually shifting, it's preposterous to think that there is not going to be some future time wherein something you're doing today will be considered the epitome of evil, outweighing everything else you have done.

Try that on your kids' teachers next time they teach lessons about the horrors of Western civilization. "Oh yeah, Ms. Garfinkel? Well you're evil and I refuse to allow little Edgar here to be taught by an evil person!"

That should provide hours of entertainment.

Monday, January 02, 2017

3 x 3 = 270

So it turns out that Hillary won the popular vote. Hurrah! That's the same as the Cleveland Browns having more rushing yards than their opponent, but still losing 37-14. The popular vote isn't the way the score is counted.

As I understand it, if you took away New York and California, Trump would have won the popular vote by millions. What this says to me is that the Democrats' playbook is to win New York, California and Illinois (thrown in just because) three times each in a single election. This seems to be their thinking:
  • California vote margin: 0-1M => 55 electoral votes
  • California vote margin: 1-2M => 110 electoral votes
  • California vote margin: 2M+ => 165 electoral votes
Dittos for the other ultra-blue states. CA+IL+NY = 104 electoral votes. Multiply that by 3 and you easily win the presidential election with 312 electoral votes.

Every time I see them doubling down on their dog-eared race and sex cards, that's what comes to mind. My very favorite strategy is when they wheel out cartloads of celebrities to tell us all what to do and think. Like this ridiculous thing.

I'm sure the people in flyover country are going to get all hot and bothered because some starlet who lives in a Bel Aire mansion gives them a civics lesson that she read off a cue card. Best of all is when they repeat the same words over and over like we're all so stupid that we need them to parrot phrases slowly and clearly otherwise we wouldn't understand what they were saying.

Can't you just see their political strategy sessions?
"Hey, let's get the celebrities to lecture people again!"

"Great idea! That will solidly lock in California at the second tier - 110 electoral votes!"
Rather than getting ticked off when you see this stuff, it might be a better idea to make some popcorn, sit back and watch the things with a smile on your face. It's like watching lunatics lock themselves in a padded room and then throw the key out the window.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Why You Should Eat Black Eyed Peas On New Year's Day

It's for good luck. Think me superstitious? Well, read this story and you be the judge.
On New Year's Day in 1837, in the little hamlet of Buzzard's Hollow, Kentucky, a farmer named Melvyn Ambergris refused his wife's delicious Hoppin' John.

"I refuse your delicious Hoppin' John!" he said. "I will not perpetuate either this superstitious nonsense nor the cis-normative patriarchy that forces you to make food for me!"

With that, he went out to do his chores. Later that day, his normally passive mule, Betsy, pulled a gun on him and shot him  to death.
Don't be a Melvyn. Eat your Hoppin' John today or at least some black eyed peas in one form or another.

They may be the only thing standing between you and a mule with a gun.

Was 2016 All That Bad?

I dunno. I had a good year, personally. Big achievements at work, a happy home life and Maddi the Cat ruled the house with a gentle temperament. Yes, two weird people dominated the news and we all argued about them, but we seem to have ended up making the better of two bad choices. I doubt Little Sisters of the Poor will be dragged back into court over condoms and maybe we can hope that some of the regulations that strangle our economy will be eased.

I feel like 2016 got a bad rap almost exclusively because of the election, but really, does it make all that much difference in our lives? Isn't part of what makes us American the ability to focus on something other than politics most of the time?

Maybe I'm in a good mood because LSU and Alabama won their bowl games yesterday. Well, that and my wife bought me a deep fryer for Christmas.

Mmm. Fried chicken.

Yep, 2016 was a pretty good year.